7 Tips to Build Muscle

7 Tips To Boost Muscle Growth

A big thanks and shout out to Elise Morgan for this guest post!

Learn more about Elise on Twitter: @elisemthewriter


If you’re looking to build muscle fast, you’re probably a pretty driven person used to working hard and seeing results. If you’re not seeing significant progress with growing muscle from month to month, however, you may need to change your approach. Here are seven scientifically proven ways to boost muscle growth in no time.


Focus More on the Eccentric Phase


There are two phases in lifting weights: concentric (hard) and eccentric (easy).  For example, lowering into a squat is an eccentric action, while returning to standing is concentric. According to the European Journal of Applied Physiology, eccentric work is better for stimulating hypertrophy of muscle fibers – more humbly known as muscle growth. To achieve this, do one of two things: slow down eccentric movements or incorporate eccentric-only variations into your session. Using the squat as an example, lower into the squat, then end the exercise to make it eccentric-only. You’ll need to increase weight substantially since muscles are stronger when moving eccentrically.


Prioritize Sleep


All the proper nutrition and weight training in the world won’t counteract a persistent lack of sleep. Avoid burning the candle from both ends and prioritize getting enough sleep every night. During sleep, the release of human growth hormone in your body helps repair cells and build muscle, as well as keeping production of cortisol, a stress hormone, at a minimum. It’s also important not to time your daily workouts too close to bedtime. Instead, give yourself at least two hours after your workout to calm down before you try to head to sleep.


Increase Training Volume


Training volume is the number of reps multiplied by number of sets. This is a primary factor in muscle growth. The math is a little complicated after that, but the bottom line is that you need to use 50 to 75 percent of the maximum weight you can lift for three to six sets of 10 to 20 reps.


Eat More Protein


Weight training breaks down muscles and protein rebuilds them. Harder workouts increase your required intake of protein to grow muscle. Research has shown that you need to eat .25 to .30 grams of protein kg of body weight per meal. That’s the equivalent of three or four eggs or a cup of yogurt. To simplify your goal, go for a scoop of protein powder.


Decrease Rest Intervals


Rest no longer than 30 to 90 seconds between sets. This will provide rapid release of muscle-building hormones like the human growth hormone and testosterone while at the same time ensuring that you really tire out your muscles – a requirement for substantial muscle growth.


Focus on Calorie Surpluses


If you’re accustomed to counting calories to lose weight, this practice can be hard to get used to. However, to be effective in building muscle, you will need to consume more calories a day than you burn. If you consume less calories than you burn, your body sees this as a deficit and responds by downshifting its tendency to grow muscle. Shoot for 250-500 extra calories per day, mostly from protein, which is more likely to be stored as muscle.


Supplement with Creatine


Although creatine doesn’t have a direct connection to muscle growth, it boosts performance for high intensity lifting sessions. According to a research review in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, supplementing your workouts with creating may help you lift an estimated 14 percent more reps than without creatine.


If you want to build muscle fast, these research-based changes to your current approach should do the trick – and remember not to get ahead of yourself. Make sure you allow time to recover from your workouts and get plenty of sleep.


Image credit: pexels

How to Shake Off The Diet Mentality

Has this ever happened to you? 

You know, that moment when you realize it’s time to do something about your fitness.

Frustrated with your current fitness level?

It may happen when you’re looking in the mirror or standing on the scale.

Your first thought is to go on a ‘diet’ but as quickly as that enters your mind, the ghosts of a hundred diets past return…along with all the frustration.

Then you wonder, why bother?

The weight will come back, as it always has. Then you’ll be back in front of the mirror as discouraged as ever.

The answer is not to go on another diet.

The answer is to change your lifestyle.

Adopt a fitness lifestyle

How Do We Change Our Lifestyle?

We have to lose the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. We need to embrace simple, small changes that will add up to big improvements in  our health fitness over time.

These are your main avenues for change:

What You Eat

Let’s face it, some of the foods we eat aren’t the healthiest. Some are downright terrible (sugar-laden soda, for example). While others become bad for us due to the volume in which we consume them (the snacks you eat while watching TV, for example).

The solution to cleaning up your daily diet is NOT to go back on a ‘diet’. In fact, I never want you to go on a ‘diet’ again (Yes! you heard me right!). Instead I want you to make permanent healthy changes to your eating habits and stick with them 80% of the time.  You might not be able to sustain an 80% “clean eating” track record today, but you can work towards it with baby steps and get a little bit better every day.

Here are some practical examples:

Choose more veggies

✓  Choose salad over chips or fries
✓  Eat fresh produce with every meal (Yep.  Even breakfast)
✓  Limit desserts to one per week
✓  Cut out mindless snacking (get snack foods out of the house)
✓  Drink water, not soda (use sparkling water if plain water bores you)

At lifeSport Fitness, we don’t expect perfection from those we coach.  We all have slip ups, BUT — there’s no “diet” to go back on.  We just get back up on the “clean eating” wagon and move forward. We think the 80/20 lifestyle approach allows you to have some planned indulgences but still eat healthfully most of the time.

How You Move

Exercise is a huge component to a healthy lifestyle, and quite frankly many Silicon Valley residents are not getting enough of it. How often does an entire week go by without you ever lacing up your tennis shoes? Don’t disregard the importance and power of a good workout.

Your new healthy lifestyle means moving more or exercising on most days of the week. This may seem tough, but there are ways to sneak in extra movement in your day.

Here are simple ways to move more:

✓  Walk to talk with a friend at work instead of texting or emailing

✓  Do some squats or push ups on the kitchen counter while you have something in the microwave

✓  Play at the park with the kids

✓  Walk in the neighborhood after dinner

✓  Do some stretches every morning

While none of the above are meant as substitutes for a solid exercise routine, they are great ways to become more active and to improve your lifestyle.

Your lifestyle is the balance of all the choices that you make regarding your body. Swing the balance in your favor—make a majority of your choices health conscious.

Feeling stuck or overwhelmed? Need a little help figuring out how to implement the first few steps in changing your lifestyle?  Hit us up for a FREE 15 minute phone consultation.  We’d be happy to help get you pointed in the right direction with some lifestyle hacks you can try at home!

Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch to get you scheduled for a 15-minute phone consultation.



Habits, Not Diets, for Lasting Weight Loss – Part 1 of 4

I’ve seen it time and again where a new client gets really excited about working on improving their nutrition, but they fall off the wagon after a few weeks (or days!). Intuitively, they understand what to do, but they have a hard time executing consistently.

I’ve been a personal trainer in San Jose for over 25 years. During that time, I’ve helped hundreds of people improve their nutrition for lasting weight loss. I’ve also seen some people really struggle to maintain or persevere with their weight loss plans.

Failure to execute consistently usually happens due to a few common themes:

1)    Changing too much too rapidly

2)   Failing to plan or think ahead

3)   Maintaining a non-supportive environment

4)   Being unaware of food triggers

If you’ve tried and failed at incorporating healthier eating into your life, I’m guessing you may have gotten hung up with one or more of these situations as well.

Walk with me here over the next few days while I offer you some solutions to each of these 4 habit change hold ups.

Let’s start with Habit Change Hang Up #1 — Changing too much too rapidly.

SOLUTION: Work on ONE change at a time

What I’ve seen from coaching hundreds of people over the years is that too much change all at once is just too stressful for most people. It’s that “diet mentality” where you decide that come next Monday, everything is going to change.  For most of us, all that change is unsustainable. Having to think about and focus on all those different things you need to change is downright stressful and fatiguing. 

Rather than change everything all at once, I coach my clients to work on one change at a time.  It’s not nearly as fatiguing.  Now, you’re not going to lose 20 pounds in two weeks doing it this way.  However, focusing on one change at a time, you’re likely to end up with a sustainable new lifestyle habit down the road instead of one more failed diet.

I work with my clients to choose one habit change that will likely net the best outcome for the client as well as choose the habit that the client is most likely to stick with.  Once we’ve made significant progress on making that habit part of their lifestyle, we move on to another habit to improve.

Here’s what I suggest you to do so that you don’t fall into the “too much too soon” trap: Choose one thing you can do to improve your overall nutrition starting tomorrow. Work on that and only that for the next month.  That one thing will be your only focus.  You don’t have to be perfect at it in order to be successful, but I want you to be mindful of it every day.  Focus on implementing that one habit daily. Be really, really consistent at that one thing.

This one habit change may be subtracting something from your lifestyle or adding something to your lifestyle.  An example of subtraction would be taking out your daily soda or decreasing the amount of fast food you eat.  An example of addition would be adding in additional water every day, or perhaps making sure to eat 3 more servings of vegetables every day.

Once it’s become easier to maintain that habit and you’re confident you can, challenge yourself to work on implementing another new habit.

Like I said earlier, this won’t net you massive weight loss in a week, but it might just net you permanent weight loss down the road because you will have changed the choices that you make on a daily basis.

If you’re struggling to change your nutrition, try my “one habit at a time” suggestion and let me know how it goes!

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week where I’ll go over the solution to Habit Change Hang Up #2 – Failing to plan or think ahead. I’ve got some ideas I think you’ll like!

Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals Through a Mindset Shift

Mindset Matters in Weight Loss

Could your mindset be hindering your weight loss goals?

Here we are at the end of the first month of the year.

How are you doing with those New Year’s Resolutions?

Every year, at the beginning of a new year, I hear about people wanting to lose weight, get in better shape, exercise more, etc.  As a San Jose personal trainer, I love to hear that people are making efforts to improve their health and fitness!

However, right about now, in the 4th or 5th week of the new year………I start to see things unravel for some well-intentioned people.

What happened to all those good intentions?

I think the reasons for people “falling off the fitness wagon” are as numerous as the people who have those good intentions :-).

Today I’d like to address one reason that I see a lot.


In her book, “Mindset” , author Dr. Carol Dweck describes the “growth mindset” and the “fixed mindset”.

Bottom line on mindsets according to Dr. Dweck’s research:  The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.

Now– back to those resolutions and why they sometimes go by the wayside:

  • We tell ourselves change is too hard
  • We tell ourselves we’re a “Carb Junkie” and can’t stop
  • We tell ourselves change is too hard, that we’re not wired for this fitness stuff and we give in

I’m no expert at mindset psychology, but I’d venture to guess that some people who falter on their fitness goals do so because of a fixed mindset. The self-talk they throw at themselves and the language they use when trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle (example: “I can’t eat that”) hinders them from seeing the process of habit/lifestyle change as a process they’ll learn and grow from.

If you think your mindset or self-talk might be getting in your way with regard to your health and fitness goals, I made a short (6 minute) video for you with a couple of simple things you can try to shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset .

Watch it here:

Any kind of change or improvement we wish to make within ourselves takes learning new skills and perseverence.

Think of your goals of improved health and fitness more as a journey than a destination.

Enjoy and learn from the journey!

Consider set backs as times to learn  and improve.

If you’re here in San Jose, please reach out if I can help you on your journey!


Committed to your success,


Coach Becky


Photo credit:


Fast and Easy Weight Loss in San Jose?

Happy New Year!

So, here we are at a the beginning of a new year.  I hear LOTS of talk of weight loss, “getting in shape”, and dieting.


As a personal trainer here in San Jose, I kind of cringe inside when I hear people say they’re….

-starting a diet tomorrow

-totally eliminating 17 things from their diet and never eating them again


– that they’re going to go the gym every single day of the week.


Wow.  Those kinds of activities are hard to maintain over the long haul!

Will this lead to fast weight loss?  Yeah, perhaps.

Will it be easy?  Probably not.  Might be downright miserable.

Here’s my take:  You can do it fast.  Or you can do it easy.  You can’t have both at the same time.

I’d like to suggest a different approach because I don’t think that the “all or nothing” approach works for most people over the long haul.

And lasting results are what we truly want, right?

Sure, there will be temporary results from “dieting”.  But the “diet” stops at some point.  After the diet stops, well, eventually you’ll be back where you started.

Or worse off.

I suggest you push the “easy” button.  Now, what I’m about to suggest might not be easy every day, but it will be something that won’t turn your life upside down.  It will be something you can live with.  It will likely create lasting change for you.

I’ve recorded a short (less than 4 minutes!) video to give you my tips for how to approach your health and fitness goals for 2018.  Whether your goal is weight loss, to be in less pain, to improve your overall health or even to complete a road race (5k, 10k, etc.) , my suggestion will help you get there.

I suggest you take what we at lifeSport Fitness call the lifestyle approach.

Listen in here……



Let’s make 2018 your best year yet with regard to your health and fitness!

One. Step. At.A.Time  😉

Belly Fat Blasting Breakfast

If you want a leaner belly, burn this into your brain first:  Eat breakfast!

Many people make fat loss out to be super complicated.

You definitely want a multi-pronged approach (like combining smart exercise and clean eating) to whittle down your belly, but really simple concepts practiced persistently are what pay off over time.

One of the easiest things you can do to start melting the fat off your frame is to start eating a breakfast EVERY DAY that boosts your metabolism and sets the tone for fat loss all day long.

Perhaps you’re nodding your head in agreement with me, but saying something like, “That’s great. I know that. But what the heck do I eat?”

Glad you asked 😉

Here are three simple fat fighting breakfasts from my colleague, Registered Dietitian, Jayson Hunter:

1- Cottage cheese mixed with real fruit

2- Hard boiled egg and yogurt mixed with real fruit

3- 2 pieces of fruit and a scrambled egg wrap

Seriously, would that be so hard? There’s protein and fresh produce in every example there.  And very little prep/cooking time ;-).  I bet you can manage these in the morning.

Well, if you can’t Jayson, who is the Head of R & D at Jaylab Pro, has another suggestion. You can use a nutritious meal replacement shake like Lean.  Blend it up with ice and the liquid of your choice and you’ve got a meal replacement that has been perfectly formulated with the right amount of protein, fats, carbohydrates and fiber.

I use it myself and find it really has a delicious chocolate flavor. In fact, I hear Jaylab Pro spent 6 months developing Lean just to get the taste right.

If you want to check out Lean, go here: JayLabPro Lean

Ok, so there you have it —   4 EASY options for a Belly Fat Blasting Breakfast. Enjoy!

Yours in health,


PS – Here are 51 other recipes that you can try — with many of them being desserts. YUMMMM!!

Protein Packed Recipes >>  Protein Packed Recipes

Food Addiction and Healthy Living

What is Food Addiction?

Food addiction is a relentless craving for typically unhealthy foods. It has only recently been recognized as a real condition.  Processed foods made with refined flours and sugar are the most common culprits when it comes to food addiction.

Most people want to lead healthy lifestyles. But doing so isn’t always easy if you have a food addiction. People who show signs of food addiction may also develop a tolerance to food. They eat more and more, only to find that food satisfies them less and less.  Needless to say, most people with food addiction struggle with obesity.


How can you become addicted to food?

The idea of food addiction was dismissed by many who thought it was impossible to become addicted to something our bodies need anyway.

However, recent studies have helped shed light on the fact that the types of foods associated with food addiction are the fat-filled, high salt, high sugar variety, which can directly impact parts of the brain associated with reward and pleasure.

The studies also show that this impact is basically the same as it would be for someone addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Why it happens

Food addiction doesn’t seem to be more prevalent in men versus women, and it doesn’t seem to be impacted by a person’s size.

Instead, it’s more likely to develop in individuals that experienced some form of trauma during their childhood. However, this may not always be the case, as sometimes it can be triggered by factors such as hormonal imbalances and family situations that cause undue stress.

Can it be cured?

Just like addictions to other substances, there really is no cure for food addiction. However, also like other addictions, it is possible to recover from the effects of addiction by strict avoidance of the offending foods.

The road to health

Recovering from food addiction is not an easy process. In fact, in some ways it can be more difficult than drug or alcohol recovery. This is because the ingredients in the unhealthy products we crave are readily available and wind up in many of the foods we’d normally encounter throughout the course of our day.  And…..we can completely eliminate alcohol or drugs from our lives…….but we can’t eliminate food.

If you think you are addicted to food, here are some steps to help you begin to overcome it:

-Enlist the help of a therapist or psychiatrist trained in addiction

-Remove trigger foods from your home

-Practice meditation and stress management (a calm mind makes better decisions!)

-Enroll in a regular exercise program that provides coaching , accountability and nutrition guidance.

If you’re local to San Jose and want a supportive group to work out with, contact us about doing a 1-week free trial at a lifeSport Fitness boot camp!

Healing Foods in Your Kitchen

Increased awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is leading many people to increase their activity levels and reevaluate the foods they eat on a daily basis.

Many people are already enjoying the benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle, as weight loss and better nutrition often lead to the disappearance of chronic illnesses and the need to take certain prescription medicines.

This is exciting news for anyone taking prescription medication on an ongoing basis. Particularly those that choose to adopt a healthy lifestyle, as they often feel conflicted when following up their home-cooked meals made from organic ingredients with a cocktail of prescription medication manufactured in a laboratory.

The success in reducing chronic conditions through good nutrition highlights the importance of carefully choosing what we put into our bodies and has opened our minds to the potential healing powers of food.

Eat to feel better

The term “comfort food” typically refers to a specific food chosen to lessen the impact of a bad day. While more recently the concept is associated with eating something that’s on the unhealthy side, the idea that foods can actually make us feel better holds true.

Alternative quick-fix remedies

Minor illnesses and ailments happen to everyone, but unfortunately we’ve grown accustomed to reaching for over-the-counter medications at the first signs of trouble.

Whether it’s an upset stomach, an annoying cough, or a minor ache or pain, you just might find an alternative quick-fix remedy in your kitchen.

Stomach trouble

Sometimes our stomachs can be extra sensitive to something we ate or to increases in stress. The next time if happens to you, try treating the minor pains or rumblings with tea made from peppermint oil, ginger or basil.

Calming your cough

Whether it’s caused by a cold or allergies, coughing can be very annoying. If a dry, irritating cough is keeping you up at night, try taking a teaspoon of honey in place of traditional cough medicine.

Pain stoppers

Turmeric is a popular spice used in curry dishes. But when consumed in soups or teas or applied directly to the skin, it also has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.

As all of our nutritional needs must be met by the foods we eat, it isn’t all that surprising that many foods pack powerful healing qualities. To make the most of these qualities as you experiment with food-based remedies for treating minor ailments, be sure to choose only the highest quality organic ingredients when possible.

The Diet and Diabetes Dilemma

As the medical industry continues to make strides in the prevention and treatment of many diseases and conditions, it’s somewhat surprising that diabetes is still on the rise in the U.S. One of the most concerning aspects is that some forms of diabetes may actually be preventable and can often be attributed to the foods we eat.

While changing guidelines can make it difficult to know what foods we should or shouldn’t be eating, it’s important to stay informed as we continue to learn more about the importance of food and overall health.

What we don’t know can hurt us

Ongoing studies have prompted changes in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is published every five years. The changes are intended to improve our overall eating habits, limit the onset of diseases and support a healthy lifestyle.

However, most Americans only receive this information as it trickles down through advice from doctors or the latest health and fitness programs or magazines. This can cause confusion, as some of the information may be taken out of context.

All fats are not created equal

Whether or not we should eliminate fat from our diets is a good example of how data can be misinterpreted. There has been a lot of discussion on the importance of reducing fat intake to improve health, but many consumers are confused as to what this actually means.

There are fats that should definitely be eliminated from our diets, such as trans fats, which can raise cholesterol. There are also fats we should carefully consider, such as saturated fat. But there are also healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids, which can actually lower bad cholesterol and prevent clogged arteries.

For consumers that choose to oversimplify this concept by eliminating all fats, the concern is what foods they are eating instead.

More carbs isn’t the answer

Consumers seeking ways to reduce fat intake may unknowingly do more harm than good when it comes to increasing their risk of diabetes.

For example, cutting out high-fat processed meats is a good idea. But if those foods are being replaced by starchy breads and pastas made from refined white flours that have little nutritional value, you’re really only trading one problem for another.

A better option would be to substitute with more fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Balance is key

While genetics and other factors may play a role in the risk for certain diseases such as diabetes, a healthy diet may help reduce this risk. The key is to eat a balance of fresh, natural foods that are high in nutrients and to limit the intake of refined grains, trans fats and foods that contain added sugar.

It’s also important to check in with your doctor regularly, particularly if diabetes runs in your family, and to seek nutritional advice tailored to your personal situation.

How to Conquer Internal Inflammation

Improvements in medical care and increased knowledge of the importance of good nutrition and exercise have many individuals seeking ways to live a longer and healthier life. While this is good news, there also seems to be an increase in previously uncommon health conditions, such as chronic inflammation.

Inflammation is most widely associated with common injuries, such as a sprained ankle or a broken finger. But it seems that many adults are suffering from chronic inflammation, often without even being aware.

This type of inflammation occurs internally and, although the connection is not always made, can potentially lead to major diseases and other conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more.

While research on the topic continues, it is largely believed that healthy lifestyle changes, including avoiding stress, eating healthy and staying active, can help combat this type of inflammation.

Learn to let it go

Stress is known to contribute to a long list of health issues, but it is possible that increased inflammation brought about by stress could be a contributing factor. There is no denying that today’s society is under a lot of stress. Even those who feel their lives are pretty well in order must still deal with the pressures of balancing family and work, and doing this on a daily basis over a period of several years or more can certainly lead to stress.

Weighing in on food and exercise

Being overweight causes undue stress on every part of your body. But the excess inflammation that goes along with even a few excess pounds could lead to health problems such as diabetes. Fortunately, we seem to be making great strides in understanding just how important diet and exercise are to our overall well-being. But when it comes to fighting inflammation with food, it seems what we eat is as important as what we don’t eat.

In with the good

Whether its tuna, salmon or sardines, be sure to up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids by consuming oily fish as your source of protein at least a few times a week. When choosing vegetables, go for the dark leafy greens-think broccoli, kale and spinach-as they are high in vitamin E. To spice up your dishes, add in fresh onions and garlic, which are known for their high anti-inflammatory chemical content, and be sure to use heart-healthy olive oil when preparing your foods. Lastly, when you crave something sweet, go for a big bowl of fresh berries that are full of antioxidants.

Out with the bad

Processed foods are almost never a good option, but if you must use them, read labels carefully and strictly avoid processed vegetable oils, and limit refined sugars and grains.

Stand up for exercise

Anyone who’s up on the latest health and fitness topics has probably heard about recent research that links sitting to a shortened lifespan. While that alone is a good enough reason to get moving, regular exercise is also known to reduce inflammation. As an added bonus, keeping active can also help with stress and weight gain, which are known contributors to chronic inflammation.